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New rules are now in place that restrict applications for Chinese domain names (anything ending in .cn)

CNNIC issued new guidelines for registrars and hosting companies on January 6th / 2010.

Roughly translated, these state:

CNNIC (China’s Internet Domain Government Agency) wishes promote the standard and healthy application of .CN domain names.
CNNIC aims to coordinate with China’s review mechanism for domain name registration information and further crack down on registration of domain names with false information.

What this means in non-government-speak is that from now onward new .com.cn and .cn domains cannot be registered unless you are an officially licensed entity within China.
Existing domains can be renewed for the meantime though (pending verification of details/validity).

This has been in process since mid December, as individual registrations were the first to get blocked

Chinese domain name supervision organization China Internet Network Information Center announced that starting from 21:00 on December 14, 2009, it closed domain name registrations for individual users who are not purchasing domains on behalf of companies or organizations. Prior to this sudden announcement, China’s central television station criticized domain name registration service providers and agencies for false, inaccurate or incomplete information in the registration process.

More here on that here – http://www.chinatechnews.com/2009/12/21/11239-chinese-measures-will-regulate-website-domain-name-registrations

Entities wishing to register domain names for others will need an ICP许可证 (ICP Xu Ke Zheng).
The ICP许可证 is a commercial licence, which is different from an ICP备案 (ICP Bei An).
We will also be subject to new requirements for new domain registrations (China loves paperwork!)

The Notification about further enhancement of auditing domain name registration information

In order to further enhance the authenticity, accuracy, and integrality of the domain name registration information, now notify as following:

1. Domain name applicants need to submit the formal paper based application material when making the online application to the registrar. The application material includes the original application form with business seal, company business license (photocopy), and registrant ID (photocopy).

2. Registrar should carefully review the application material. When application is deemed qualified, registrar need to submit the application material via fax or E-mail to CNNIC, and withhold the original application material.

3. From the day of the submission of online application, if CNNIC does not receive the formal paper based application material within 5 days or the application material auditing is not qualified, the domain name to be applied will be deleted.

4. The above regulations will be executed since 9:00AM (Beijing Time), Dec 14th, 2009.

If you have any question, free to contact us at 86-10-58813000 or email to service@cnnic.cn.

Existing ICP Registrations
In addition to these new rules, all existing domain registrations are being scrutinized carefully, and all details are being verified.
As we have been quite proactive in ensuring that all clients have ICP licensing, and keeping our upstream ISP / contacts at Shanghai Telecom advised of anything information they require ahead of time, we expect that this will cause minimal disruption to our services.
If we do need to verify additional information from clients, please be prompt in forwarding them to us if we do request them, to avoid issues.

New ICP Registrations
Due to the above checks, new ICP registrations (which are required for any domain hosted in China) are taking substantially longer than the normal 2-3 days. We are currently seeing delays of up to 2 months for new license applications from the MII (Ministry of Information). We deal with the licensing bureau’s on a daily basis, and are notified quickly in case of issues, but the current checking requirements are just making everything take rather longer than is usual. We ask clients to be patient while their ICP registration is in progress. We are aware that it is not an ideal situation to have to wait for a few weeks, but we are dependent on the government issuing body, who are very very backlogged with work right now. License applications that are currently in process can be checked by clients at the government website here – http://www.miibeian.gov.cn/chaxun/ggcx.jsp.

Computer Solutions client ICP Registration site is here – http://icp.computersolutions.cn/. New clients can register a user account on our ICP site, and submit an application form from our site.

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Why do I need an ICP licence?

As we often get asked why people need to register an ICP licence, as well as whats required. I thought it would be a good idea to explain what it is, and why its needed.

Essentially, an ICP licence is a permit from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MII) in order to have a website in China.
In Chinese this licence is called a Bei An (ICP备案).

This was made law way back in September 2000, but not enforced until the late parts of this decade – 2007 onwards.
The latest documentation about this, and other requirements (in Chinese) is over here – http://www.miibeian.gov.cn/chaxun/flfg1.jsp?id=12

It is mandatory for any websites hosted in China to have an ICP licence, under penalty of law.
This applies whether the site is a .com, or a .cn or any other kind of domain name.

How do you apply for an ICP licence?

Website ICP licences are applied for at the MII website ( http://www.miibeian.gov.cn ), as this is all in Chinese, we typically assist clients with this process.

What do I need to apply for an ICP licence?

The official requirements are below:

Name of the website owner
Ownership information – ( Is the site is owned by an individual or a company? )
Valid identification documents (e.g., passport, ID card, etc)
Passport ID or Identification ID

Name of website investor
Your Location (in China)
Address (in China)
Operation type

Contact Person
Types of valid identification documents of the contact Person (e.g., passport or ID card, etc)
Passport ID or other Identification ID of the contact person
Office Phone (in China)
Mobile Phone (in China)
Email:

Name of the website
Home page of the website
Domain name of the site
What type of site it is (e.g., blog, forum, etc.)
What is the content of the site?

Although foreigners should be able to apply for an ICP licence, in practice that’s not possible (we haven’t been able to successfully have an ICP licence issued for a foreigner for at least a year).
Effectively this limits us to the following two requirements (we can fill in the rest for you):

Legal Chinese Company Licence Number
Company Name (in Chinese and English)

or

Chinese Name
ID number.

Note that while companies are able to register multiple websites, individuals are only permitted to register a single site.

Where do I put the licence?
The excerpt from the official wording reads as follows: 并在取得经营许可证或备案号后 3 天内放在网站主页下方显著位置.
This basically says that the licence must be placed on the website within 3 days of receiving the licence, and must be placed on the home page at the bottom of the page.

Note that we do check clients sites on a semi regular basis for this, so if you redesign your site and forget to put the ICP licence in, you may find your site closed until this is done.

How long does it take?
Typically licence application takes less than two weeks. We have seen licenses issued in as little as a day though, through to taking 2-3 months!
This all depends on when you apply, and what kind of business you are doing in China.

We recommend that you avoid leaving things until the Chinese Holidays if things are urgent, as the relevant departments are usually understaffed, and about to go on vacation.
In a worst case scenario, we can host sites oversea’s until the licence is issued.

The licence department will ask us to close down acccess to the site when they perform the check though.

We recommend that licenses are applied for well ahead of time, so that you don’t have any downtime.

What does it cost?
Applying for an ICP licence is free. If you are one of our clients, we perform licence application as part of our service.
If you aren’t one of our clients, then why not become one!

What kind of sites can get licenses? / What can we host?
Any site that does not contravene China law can get a license. We cannot assist you with hosting anything that is illegal in China!

China law prohibits the following kinds of websites:

  • Pornographic or promoting immoral behaviour.
  • Sites offensive to the Chinese government or people.
  • Sites that sell online drugs or satellite equipment
  • Sites that promote banned activities or organizations.

Note that certain kinds of content do require additional licensing, in addition to an ICP licence.

An example would be BBS (Forums).
If you require a forum, we recommend that the forum is hosted outside of China until a license can be issued.

Note that BBS licensing requires additional fee’s and documentation due to the amount of work involved.

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